The object of the National Capital Plan, which is prepared and administered by the National Capital Authority, is 'to ensure that Canberra and the territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance'.
The National Capital Plan sets out the broad planning framework for all of the Australian Capital Territory, and provides detailed planning policies and guidelines for areas designated as having the special characteristics of the national capital. These are termed the Designated areas.
Any alteration to buildings or structures, demolition, landscaping or excavation works in these designated areas require the prior written approval of the NCA or 'Works Approval'.
The applicant may be required to provide evidence of environmental clearance or approval from the Department of the Environment and Heritage before the NCA will give its approval to development proposals on:
- Commonwealth land;
- Designated areas;
- Sites that may have endangered and protected species of flora and fauna, or some other environmental value (including heritage); or
- Development that has a significant impact on the heritage values of a 'place' entered in the Commonwealth or National Heritage list.
The NCA's consideration of such proposals is based on the relevant provisions of the National Capital Plan.
The NCA's role is to assist applicants through a process of negotiation and design development to achieve outcomes appropriate to those areas which embody the special characteristics of the national capital.
The 'Designated Areas' include all major approach routes to Canberra, the Parliamentary Zone, Lake Burley Griffin and Surrounding Parklands, the Australian National University, Russell Defence Precinct, Duntroon and ADFA. The Designated Areas also include the Inner Hills of the National Capital including Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie , Black Mountain, O'Conner Ridge, Red Hill, Oakey Hill, Mount Painter, The Pinnacle and Stromlo Forest.